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Posts by Shuting
Name: Shuting Zhai
Joined: Nov 29, 2016
Last Post: Apr 13, 2018
Threads: 3
Posts: 23  
Likes: 4
From: China
School: Peking Uiversity

Displayed posts: 26
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Shuting   
Apr 13, 2018
Graduate / One page essay explaining interest to attend a professional workshop on modeling [3]

Thanks for the idea Holt! But I am a little confused here. My interest in the workshop is by and large motivated by my research topic, since modeling is the main method I'm gonna use to achieve my research goals. So first I expressed my interest in modeling studies in general, and then I listed specific scientific questions I want to answer and how I'm gonna investigate these questions through model studies. What I hope to learn during the workshop came naturally (at least I think) after that and also motivated me to apply for this oppurtunity of systematic training. But overall I think my focus is my research questions, not just the skills I hope to learn from the workshop.

Are you suggesting I should write more on my motivation for the research topic and my skills to appeal reviewers? I'm not 100% sure I get your idea, so could you explain it more specifically? Thanks a lot!
Shuting   
Apr 2, 2018
Graduate / One page essay explaining interest to attend a professional workshop on modeling [3]

Hi there, I am applying to a workshop on modeling in my research area. Please help me revise my essay, any suggestions and comments are welcomed! Thanks.

"1 page essay explaining your interest in the workshop and possible science questions you would like to address. "

workshop in atmospheric modeling



Dear Admission Committee:
My name is XXX, I am a first year PhD student in the YYY University. I work with Professor ZZZ on EE chemistry using VVV model.

During Master's course, I studied on the development of instrumentation for online measurements of ambient trace gas pollutants like FFF. While the importance of observations and field studies cannot be underestimate in atmospheric sciences, I am more curious in the processes that drive changes in air composition, and how these processes can be parameterized in models. Numerical modeling makes it possible to understand the complex coupling between these processes, and to make detailed connections between theory and observations. Motivated by my curiosity on the chemical mechanisms, transportation, emission and deposition of pollutants, I decided to transit my research focus into modeling during my doctoral study.

My research topic is to examine GGG variance over preindustrial-industrial and glacial-interglacial timescales, and to investigate the implications for tropospheric chemistry and climate. Specifically, there are two scientific questions I am interested in: What are the biggest drivers for the variance in GG abundance over the two important climate timescales? What are the potential implications for the oxidizing capacity of the atmosphere and short-lived climate forcing agents CH4, tropospheric O3, and aerosols? I will conduct the research through adding GG sources and chemistry schemes in VVV model, and evaluating CC proxies.

As a beginner of modeling studies, a fully understanding of the model structures and how specific processes are represented in models is the first step. The initial part of my research work is to improve the model performance by implement new chemical schemes. This includes multi-phase reactions of GG in snow and sea ice at polar areas, and the formation and transportation of sea salt aerosol, since they act as an important source of GG. Therefore, a systematic training on fundamentals of atmospheric chemistry and aerosol modeling is a perfect opportunity for me to build a solid background for my future study.

Through the lectures offered by the workshop and interactive exercises, I hope to gain a clearer understanding of model studies, and furtherly hone my skills in model works. I will also gain a broader perspective on models across different scales (box models, regional models and global models), understanding the advantages and disadvantages of these models, which will help me choose an appropriate model to suit various research objectives. Last but not least, the workshop offers an exceptional opportunity to network with not only renowned atmospheric scientists, but also peer students, postdocs, early career professors and researchers in the field across the country.

I look forward to attending this workshop, to sharing and communicating with scientists in atmospheric modeling. I sincerely hope you will consider my application favorably.
Shuting   
Apr 2, 2018
Writing Feedback / The only way to increase recycling is for governments to make it a legal requirement. [4]

I think it is a good essay generally. You made your opinion pretty clear that law is not the ONLY way to recycle more waste by listing other possible ways. I am convinced :). For an IELTS essay, I think you should avoid using "personally", because this is your essay, the whole thing is about you addressing your own opinion, so there's no need to say "personally". Hope this would help.
Shuting   
Apr 2, 2018
Scholarship / UK' CSC AND NIGERIA - HOW YOUR STUDY RELATES TO DEVELOPMENT IN YOUR COUNTRY? [3]

First of all, I think you need to add transitions between your paragraphs. For example, the first paragraph is talking about the increasing population of Nigeria, while the second abruptly transit the topic to the poverty and poor development of economics. I think it would be better to reconsider the logic that connects them together, and make it clear to the readers. Also, you need to address specifically how the beneficial effects of your skills will be measured, as it asked in the instructions.
Shuting   
Dec 8, 2016
Graduate / Scholarly and research area(s) of interest, experiences that led to your preparation in the field [21]

@Holt
Thank you for all the suggestions and assistance! I think I'll leave the essay the way it is now, with 702 words because I think that's the best way to convey all my research interest and purposes.

My two essays, the PHS and SOP have experienced major progress under your guidance. I feel so lucky to find EF and have such a warm-hearted instructor to help me.

Thanks again! With all my sincereness.
Shuting   
Dec 8, 2016
Graduate / Scholarly and research area(s) of interest, experiences that led to your preparation in the field [21]

@Holt
Thanks!!
Do you think this paragraph is necessary? Experiencing achievements and setbacks from instrumentation development to field campaigns, I gained independent experiment design principals, and error-checking and problem solving skills, which are all based on a solid foundation of theoretical studies. Now I am ready to push my study a step further.
Shuting   
Dec 7, 2016
Graduate / Scholarly and research area(s) of interest, experiences that led to your preparation in the field [21]

@Holt

Oh sorry I just saw your last reply. I can understand more about the contribution part. Diversity could be some specific, yet unique aspect from anyone, right? I think I can come up with some ideas, but I guess it should be relevant to my academic topics. And since it's a sentence-long idea to express, I can't write too many details about it. Do you think it is ok like the way it is now? I am excited to share my research experience in heavily polluted China and contribute my own perspective to the community. Is this too vague?
Shuting   
Dec 7, 2016
Graduate / Scholarly and research area(s) of interest, experiences that led to your preparation in the field [21]

@Holt
Here's the current version of the essay. I'm especially not sure about the ending paragraph.

My research interest is Atmospheric Science, with an emphasis on atmospheric oxidation chemistry and instrumentation development. A major motivation for pursuing my career in this area is China's severe air pollution, which poses threats to human health for millions of people. A comprehensive understanding of atmospheric chemistry is the key to helping our understanding of how to solve the complex air pollution problems. Despite recent progress made investigating radical-driven oxidation mechanisms, their importance in ozone and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) formation, and the quantification of free radicals (e.g. OH, NO3, etc.) remain uncertain, thus hampering our understanding about photochemical smog. This is part of the puzzle I want to help decipher. In addition, advanced analytical instruments, with higher temporal resolution, identification and quantification capacity, are urgently needed to provide detailed information about chemical processes of highly reactive species. Therefore, atmospheric oxidation chemistry and instrumentation are the two areas I would like to work in. I hope accurate observation results and clarified atmospheric mechanism could shed light on future emission control strategies in China, and also bridge the gap in our learning of the interaction between global climate change and regional air pollution.

I have gained some instrumentation experience through master's thesis research. Under the supervision of Prof. XXX, I am working on the project "AAA" (paper under review). The main focus is to develop a compact, automated in-situ method to detect ambient BBBs, with higher time resolution and less power consumption. I'm responsible for developing an automated sampling system, combining it with time of flight mass spectrometer (ToFMS), and applying the instrument on urban roads, as well as plateau background sites. The instrument is able to achieve a detection limit (3σ) of ~60 pptv (for most BBBs), with a 10 min temporal resolution. Furthermore, the small physical dimension (60×40×32cm) and low energy-consumption (< 300W) allow on-vehicle measurement.

From instrumentation development to field campaigns, I experienced achievements and setbacks, from which I gained a lot of error-checking and problem solving skills, independent experiment design principals, which are all based on a solid foundation of theoretical studies. Now I am ready to push my study a step further.

During Ph.D. study, I want to develop my research in two main areas: developing and applying state of the art instrument for detecting trace gas precursors of photochemical pollutants, and the highly reactive radicals; and clarifying oxidation chemical processes through controlled laboratory experiments and field observations. Specifically, I hope to clarify three scientific questions: How do NOx concentrations affect OH-initiated VOC oxidation pathways? How important is NO3 chemistry in daytime O3-rich environment? What controls the heterogeneous reaction rate of N2O5 and to what extent does it impact NO3 and NOx budgets? I hope to conduct research on these topics with a professor sharing similar interests.

I deeply admire Prof. YYY and his colleagues' efforts on the development and application of spectroscopic observational techniques like CCC and DDD. Also, I am quite interested in their innovative work on daytime HONO mixing ratios and their impact on HOx budget, nocturnal and heterogeneous chemistry of NO3, and particulate nitrate photolysis in marine boundary layer. These focuses fit well with my research interests, and my experience in instrumentation, laboratory experiments and field campaigns will definitely facilitate my future study in Prof. YYY's group. Therefore, I hope to join as a contributing member of the team.

I am passionate about my dream career as a future professor, who is not only able to conduct independent research, share his/her results with peers, but also has the opportunity to teach and mentor various students, including potential young scientists, using knowledge and expertise accumulated along the way. The DDD Ph.D. program in UCLA, with the worldwide recognized faculty members and extensive peer communication opportunities, would definitely serve a perfect platform to enhancing my research skills teaching philosophy for the future career in academia.

I am excited to share my research experience in heavily polluted China and contribute my own perspective to the community. I have diligently pursued my environmental education for the past few years, and I deeply desire to continue strengthening it with a Ph.D. program. I have learned from the best that China offers. Hopefully I can now learn from the best that the world offers. I sincerely hope UCLA would be a gateway to my future career as an atmospheric science researcher.


And the word count is 741 now. Do you think I should tailor it to be more concise?
Shuting   
Dec 7, 2016
Graduate / Scholarly and research area(s) of interest, experiences that led to your preparation in the field [21]

@Holt
Thank you soooo much! I'm not a native speaker so I don't know how to exactly express my appreciation for your kind guidance, I hope you can get my gratefulness anyway.

About the last paragraph, I'm not sure if I should mention my desire to contribute to their international image.In fact, I don't quite understand "summarize your desire too help enhance their student community and their international image as a top caliber university" you mentioned. Because I didn't demonstrate any contributions in this essay. The only thing I might be able to offer is the fact I'm a Chinese, this might enhance the diversity. But I know there are a looooot of Chinese students in UCLA. So I'm not sure how I could enhance their international image. I'm afraid this may sound a little too confident.

Maybe there's some cultural difference here I don't understand?
Shuting   
Dec 7, 2016
Graduate / Scholarly and research area(s) of interest, experiences that led to your preparation in the field [21]

@Holt
Thanks again! Very very much!

For my research project part:

I have gained some instrumentation experience through master's thesis research. Under the supervision of Prof. XXX, I am working on the project "AAA" (paper under review). The main focus is to develop a compact, automated in-situ method to detect ambient BBBs, with higher time resolution and requiring less power. I'm responsible for developing an automated sampling system, combining the sampling system with time of flight mass spectrometer (ToFMS), and applying the instrument on urban roads, as well as plateau background sites. The combined instrument is able to achieve a detection limit (3σ) of ~60 pptv (for most BBBs), with a 10 min temporal resolution. Furthermore, the small physical dimension (60×40×32cm) and low energy-consumption (< 300W) allow on-vehicle measurement.

During the combination process, the incompatible flow rate imposed a major challenge. I worked closely with Prof. YYY's group to address this problem. After intensive testing, we found a solution by employing a novel inlet design and a different VUV light source. It allows a balanced flow rate, which would achieve acceptable enrichment effect, while compromising little to the ionization efficiency.

Although high temporal resolution is achieved in this project, a challenge lies in the identification and quantification of complex air samples, due to the interference brought by fragmentation. In the future, I want to work on improving this by exploring variable ionization approaches.

From these research experiences, I learned that good instrumentation requires a lot of error-checking and problem solving skills. It is much more than simply designing and setting up an instrument. Advanced instruments that meet our ever growing environmental monitoring needs require a solid foundation of theoretical studies as well.


The first paragraph is a brief intro about the project, the second is a challenge I solved during the project. Third is the future challenge and possible direction for future development.And the last one is what I learned from this. Since my project is mainly about developing a novel instrument, the method part is actually quite important. But I followed your advice, deleted some details, I'm not sure if the first paragraph is good enough.

How do you think I should tailor the latter three paragraphs? Should I only keep the challenge I successfully solved and delete the other two? Please give me some suggestions about this.

If you think this is not good, don't hesitate to point out for me.
Thank you so much for all your effort!
Shuting   
Dec 6, 2016
Graduate / Scholarly and research area(s) of interest, experiences that led to your preparation in the field [21]

@Holt
For the future plan, I added my teaching tendency in the future, wondering if this could be a connection.

Furthermore, the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, having faculty members with varied specialties and perspectives, from controlled laboratory experiments, field and satellite observations to model studies, will definitely be a prospective and outstanding platform for my future study in this interdisciplinary field. Additionally, I'm passionate about being a future professor, guiding motivated young adults using my knowledge and expertise, as well as teaching philosophy gained from the world recognized faculty of UCLA. Therefore, UCLA is my first choice school.
Shuting   
Dec 6, 2016
Graduate / Scholarly and research area(s) of interest, experiences that led to your preparation in the field [21]

@Holt
I added some challenge I overcame and feelings I got during my research, and here is the ample paragraph, I believe I need to edit it in a more concise way.

For advanced study and research, I have gained some instrumentation experience through master's thesis research. Under the supervision of Prof.XXX, I am working on the project "AAA" (paper in preparation). The main focus is to develop a compact, automated method to detect ambient BBBs, with higher time resolution and requiring less power. The instrument combines a sampling system based on adsorption/thermal desorption method, and an analytical system. [...]
Shuting   
Dec 4, 2016
Graduate / Scholarly and research area(s) of interest, experiences that led to your preparation in the field [21]

@Holt Thanks for your advice again!

For UCLA, I don't have another application material other than the Statement of Purpose. A PhD program may well cost 5 years or more so I guess that is my short term future plan. Should I add some more information about what I want to do after PhD? like Post doc? I just assume it's a normal path for someone who wants to pursue a career in academia.

I'm more than willing to post my draft for your review, I'm just a little worried if my essay would be plagiarized by someone else. After all it is an open site for everyone. Should I be worried about this?

Anyway, I still think my essay would be improved more with your guidance. So here it is:

My enthusiasm for deeper understanding of the chemical mechanism of the atmosphere, my desire for conducting independent, original research and my career goal of becoming an atmospheric scientist in academia, have motivated me to pursue higher education in the prestigious Ph.D. program in UCLA.

My research interest is Atmospheric Science, with an emphasis on atmospheric organic chemistry and instrumentation development. Specifically, some of my research interests include: [...]

Shuting   
Dec 4, 2016
Graduate / Scholarly and research area(s) of interest, experiences that led to your preparation in the field [21]

This is the prompt. I can understand every single sentence of it and I wrote one or more paragraphs to each sentence. What confuses me is how long should I go with each answer? And which part is more important, that is, I should describe more about? And how should I arrange different answers together to make the whole essay a consistent one?

Please state your purpose in ...

Here's how I categorize these prompts:

Please state your purpose in applying for graduate study:
Here I state briefly that my research interest, my willingness to conduct independent research work, and my career goal motivate me to pursue PhD study. It is a small paragraph, about 4 rows (44 words).

Describe your scholarly and research area(s) of interest:
I describe my research interest, and give two specific areas I am especially interested in.(49 words)

Experiences that contributed to your preparation in the field:
Briefly describe experiences that have prepared you for advanced study or research, and provide any additional information that may aid the selection committee in evaluating your preparation and aptitude for graduate study at UCLA.


I know it says "briefly", but I wrote 217 words to show I am prepared in this field in two way:
1. Background knowledge through course work and literature review
2. Research/project experience on XXX topic.
I've only described my experience, should I add how these experience should facilitate my future study? Like what skills did I learn from these experience?

I think this is an ample paragraph because this is where I could show my qualifications and aptitude.

your plans for your future occupation or profession
My previous experience has sparked my passion for achieving better understanding on the unknown part in atmospheric chemistry, through original research by instrumentation development, controlled laboratory experiments, field observations and numerical models. I want to pursue a career in academia as a research scientist or a professor in this area. Eventually, I hope to make my own contributions to atmospheric science, helping sharpen our scientific "visibility" in the air.(69 words)

If you are applying for a research masters or doctoral program, you are encouraged to indicate specific research interests and potential faculty mentors.
Here I indicate some specific faculty's name and their research, say that my research interest aligns with theirs and I deeply admire their work, want to be a contributive part in their team, etc.(94 words)

Now I've got all the materials the prompt asked, how should I tailor and arrange these materials to make a systematic, coherent essay? If you have any suggestions, whether it's about the whole structure, or each answers, please tell me. Thank you very much!
Shuting   
Dec 4, 2016
Writing Feedback / English Essay: Persuasive Essay on Lying [4]

@linrose
I think your essay is persuasive overall. What you need to do is to be more clarified about and separate clearly the three scenario where lying is justifiable. For example, I think white lie can also be used to describe the examples you gave in the next paragraph: lying to a child about death. After all, it is also out of kindness to keep others from hurt. So I think you should think about the categories more carefully and put your examples in a clearer framework.
Shuting   
Dec 4, 2016
Writing Feedback / The populations of India and China from 2000 to 2050. [3]

I think when describing a graph, you need to use an unified tense.
India's population is much fewer than China's totally, yet they both increased steadily until they will reach the same point in 2030. After this, the number of Chinese will experience a decline, while the total number of people in another ...
Shuting   
Dec 1, 2016
Graduate / Personal History Statement - my pursuit of higher education in environmental science [16]

@Holt I've already sent an email asking about the prompt, I'll let you know once I receive a reply.
What do you think about this revision:
Three years later, my family was in a more stable place economically, which meant that I could finally pursue my long delayed master's study. During the three years in graduate school, my academic interests in instrumentation and atmospheric chemistry blossomed through my own research. I kept sharing on the platform my excitement of being able to pursue my passion with all the freedom and contentment that I could enjoy. According to the feedback, my articles have motivated a lot of readers to seek and find what they really love, and try to pursue their dream despite economical, physical, or cultural setbacks.

Is it too vague without an specific example?
Shuting   
Dec 1, 2016
Graduate / Personal History Statement - my pursuit of higher education in environmental science [16]

@Holt I've tried several ways to connect my research to under served population, but none of them worked. My research is mainly scientific and does not really related to other people. I tried to say my research found that vehicle exhaust has increased pollution concentration in a large portion, I shared this result through the platform and encourage people to choose public transportation instead of their own. But it has nothing to do with the under represented people, nor leadership I might serve among them. So I guess I have to skip this part. I also think maybe this part of the prompt is more suitable for those who study social sciences, maybe they could talk about their research focusing on women, LGBT, etc. What do you think?

Thanks for all your time and effort, I really appreciated your guidance.
Shuting   
Nov 30, 2016
Graduate / Personal History Statement - my pursuit of higher education in environmental science [16]

@Holt
I revised the essay based on yours. I added my master's research experience because I think this is an important part informing my decision to pursue a Ph.D. study. After all the biggest motivation toward a Ph.D. is always the enthusiasm for professional research, right? So I want to include that in PHS, too.

Thanks for your constructive advice on improving my writing.I think they are very useful. I'm very happy to find EF and get your help. Definitely need to visit more.

Here's the revised essay:

I was born and raised in XX, one of the most polluted cities in the world according to Time Magazine. Often compared to the Great London Smog of 1952, I grew up surrounded by similar air pollution problems that had a direct adverse impact upon the health of me and my family. It is the hazy air that we breathe that I believe contributed a large part to the poor health of my father, which led to his eventual operation. It was this combination of history and events that led me to pursue a degree in Environmental Science.

At the time of my father's operation, I had just graduated with an honored degree in Environmental Science and was looking forward to starting my career. However, I was unable to work in this field as I was forced to take an accounting job instead so that I could help support my family and defray my father's mounting medical bills. Even though the job offered a decent salary, I still found myself longing for the career that I was trained for. In an effort to offset this sadness, I started a public platform on WeChat, an instant messenger in China.

Using this platform I was able to connect with other people and sharing knowledge regarding environmental hazards. Somehow my simple platform helped to educate others who would not have had a chance to learn about environmental issues because they either could not afford to go to college or because they did not have the time to do the research required. My platform was accepted and shared among blue collar workers like miners, housewives looking to further their knowledge of important matters, and high school students hoping to expand their knowledge. It was through this platform that I came to realize a need to bridge the gap between the professional terms and daily language in terms of the sustainable development discussion. They had questions and I had responses for them. It was an open discussion that allowed me to see the plight of others and also, help them to overcome their learning obstacles in a constructive way.

Three years later, my family was in a more stable place economically, which meant that I could finally pursue my long delayed master's study. During three years in graduate school, my academic interests in instrumentation and atmospheric chemistry blossomed through my own research. I still remember the excitement when the first peak appeared on the screen, indicating the device, which I made out of scratch, could successfully detect trace level species. Fascinated by advanced instruments since then, I became familiar with other commercialized equipment for chemical analysis of atmospheric samples. Along with the knowledge accumulation, my passion grew, which in turn sparked many new ideas about my own instrumentation process.

I am ready and excited to commit myself to years of hardwork increasing our scientific "visibility" in the atmosphere. Hopefully, I will be able to leave my mark on the world in terms of helping mitigate the severe environmental situation. The world renowned Ph.D. program offered by UC Berkeley would serve as a stepping stone to achieve that. Furthermore, I hope to continue widening the reach of the WeChat circle I have cultivated over the years so I can keep motivating others learn more about environmental issues and how to possibly resolve it.

Shuting   
Nov 30, 2016
Graduate / Personal History Statement - my pursuit of higher education in environmental science [16]

@Holt
Thank you so much for the efforts! I'm so lucky to have your guidance.
It is impressive how you could fit my experience to what the requirement asked. I always thought "higher education" means to study in college or graduate schools, so I got stuck at this concept since I don't have experience on helping people get into universities. Yet through your revision, I learned that higher education is a comparative term, it could be learning from others. Thanks.

I want to ask for your advice on improving my future writings, too. I think I can understand the prompt, it's just that when I'm writing, I have trouble to logically weave and articulate my own materials in the framework of prompt. Through this essay, can you see some problems on me that may cause this? Do I not understand the prompt enough, or I just need more practice?
Shuting   
Nov 30, 2016
Graduate / Personal History Statement - my pursuit of higher education in environmental science [16]

@Holt Here's my revised PHS. I sort of blended your outline of paragraph 2 and 3 to make it more chronological for me. And I don't have experience to help others advance their higher education so I skipped paragraph 4. I also think my ending is not strong enough. I sincerely look forward to your comment and suggestions.

Born and growing up in XX, China, a city once reported by TIME Magazine as one of the world's most polluted places, I have always been curious about environmental issues. During college, courses like Environmental Chemistry, Environmental Monitoring and Instrumental Analysis soon captured my interests. The Great Smog of 1952 in London depicted in text books is so similar to what we are going through now. I started to find possible solutions for today's problem from London experience. But as I learnt more, I found China's scenario was more complicated. To put forward effective measures, comprehensive understanding of the mechanism of severe pollution is crucial. Therefore, I decided to continue my study in Environmental Science to look for possible answers.

...
Shuting   
Nov 30, 2016
Graduate / Personal History Statement - my pursuit of higher education in environmental science [16]

@Holt
Thank you again! My college major is environmental science, the same with my Master's. I learned accounting after graduation from college, and just do accounting job as a financial method to support my family.So basically I've never though about changing career path, it's always been environmental science researcher. I think my first version of essay is not so clear on that so it misled you somehow. Sorry!

I'll revise my essay following your guidance, it's indeed more clear to the readers.Thank you very much!
Shuting   
Nov 30, 2016
Graduate / Personal History Statement - my pursuit of higher education in environmental science [16]

@Holt
Thank you so much for your advice! I am truly grateful for your effort!
I should post the requirement along with my essay, the personal history statement is required by UC-Berkeley,and here's its requirement:
Please describe how your personal background and experiences ...

So I mentioned my responsibility to support my family and the reason for doing so(my father was not able to work), as an evidence of I "overcome some barriers to access higher education".I think that's an important part to include in this essay, I just don't know how I could fit it more smoothly into the whole theme.

Your suggestion about my friend and what intrigued my interest in choosing environmental science as my college major is great, I'll make it more personal. Also, I'll take your advice concerning the platform because it will be more persuasive.

I think the central theme should be linking my past life experience to my future career, so perhaps I should describe more about the transition I experienced from a general environmentalist to a professional atmospheric science researcher, and less about my previous life experience (supporting family, platform)? Yet the requirement seems very interested in this part, so I am actually quite confused about what to include in my essay.

Oh and a Statement of Purpose is also required, I wrote some professional experience and my reasons for applying PhD program. I guess as opposed to it, Personal History Statement should be more centered on how my past experience has shaped my motivation to future study, right?
Shuting   
Nov 29, 2016
Graduate / Personal History Statement - my pursuit of higher education in environmental science [16]

As a first generation college student, my pursuit of higher education in environmental science is not as smooth as my interest developed in this area. The sympathy for people suffering in heavily polluted China, the experience in popularization of scientific knowledge, and the enthusiasm for atmospheric research has shaped my path to be an environmentalist and academic researcher.

I was born in XX, a city once reported by TIME Magazine as one of the world's most polluted places. Severe air pollution, mainly due to expanding coal industry, have threatened the residents' health with increasing rate of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. When I was in high school, one of my best friends had to suspend her schooling because of asthma, and the doctor believed it was partly caused by the dirty air. I was truly upset then and decided that I want to do something to mitigate the situation. Therefore, I chose environmental science as my major in college, hoping to help improve the air quality of my hometown one day so that there would be fewer and fewer people suffering from pollution of whatever kind.

My interests in math and chemistry since high school facilitated my study in college. Furthermore, participation in several environmental activities with non-governmental organizations (i.e. NGOs or non-profits) ignited my enthusiasm for environmental issues. These interests continued and were stronger as I graduated from college.

Unfortunately I have gapped three years before I went to graduate school. When I was preparing to advance my education after college, my father had a heart attack. He took a surgery and after one week in the ICU, he came out extremely vulnerable. I was so worried about him that after one night's ponderation, I decided to stay at home taking care of him, instead of going to graduate school. Since my father's not working after surgery, I worked as an accountant in a trading company to help support my family.

I didn't enjoy working with payrolls and taxes, yet there's no environment-related company or institution in a small city like my hometown. But that cannot stop my enthusiasm. I started a public platform on WeChat (a social software like MSN), as a way to popularize environmental knowledge to ordinary people. The platform shared basic knowledge about air and water pollution, recent acts and regulations limiting pollutants' emission, fun facts concerning climate change and biosphere, and practical eco-friendly tips in daily life. I tried my best to make scientific results more easily accepted by nonprofessional people, hoping to promote environmental awareness among the masses.

Originally I assumed the readers would mainly be high school students. However, one day when I visit my grandma, I found my platform was quite popular among housewives in her community. It was that time when I realized, there are more people who are curious about our planet and environmental protection than I thought. What is missing is just a bridge between professional terms and daily language.

Even though the accounting job is well-paid, and I was offered a big promotion by the company, somehow it constantly reminded me that it was not something I enjoyed as a career. I was more fulfilled to receive one comment on my We-chat platform than to accomplish a challenging task at work successfully. Three years later, my father was totally recovered and went back to work. As my family's economic status are much more stable, I immediately quit the job, returned to graduate school to continue my dream of pursuing a career as an environmental scientist.

It was during Master's study that I accomplished the transition from a general environmental enthusiast to a professional researcher. My academic interests in instrumentation and atmospheric science are able to form and blossom through coursework and my own research experience.

I developed an instrument for monitoring ambient pollutants (for details please refer the Statement of Purpose). I still remember the excitement when the first peak appeared on the screen, indicating the device, which I made out of scratch, could successfully detect trace level species. Fascinated by advanced instruments since then, I became familiar with other commercialized equipment for chemical analysis of atmospheric samples, like XX,XX,XX, etc. The more I learned, the more my passion grew, and the accumulating knowledge in turn sparked many new ideas about my own instrumentation process.

More and more often, I find myself working at leisure time, from well-equipped lab to cold, empty containers (while we are on campaigns), testing and improving the instruments. Not because I have to, but because I enjoy the feeling of devoting myself to something I am truly enchanted with. I finally find my career.

Although there are several setbacks along the way, I am proud of the person I have become: a self-motivated female who have worked full time to support her family, and continue, with headlong resolution,to pursue her dream as an environmental scientist. I strongly believe my personality, academic interests and experience will enable me to serve as a contributive part in improving China's environment, through academic achievements and endeavor in popularization of science to ordinary people.